“This is a horrible, horrible book,” my 7 year old daughter cries. I try to laugh at her antics amidst my own tears.
Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman is a fictionalized account of a true story that happened in Japan in the 1920’s.
Professor Ueno gets an Akita puppy named Hachi who goes with the professor to the train station every day and meets him again at 3 pm when the professor arrives home. This goes on for about one year until one day the Professor never arrives on the 3 o’clock train. Hachi waits and waits and waits. He waits for 10 years until his death, always scanning the trains that come in for the Professor.
If you are any kind of animal lover, especially dogs, you are guaranteed to cry at this story. The loyalty and devotion of a dog is never at its finest than right here.
I cried because I felt so sorry for the dog. Hachi will never know his owner is not coming back. Hachi cannot go on with his life because his life was the professor’s life. When the professor’s life ended, so did his.
I have 2 old dogs whom I know will die sooner rather than later. I am not looking forward to this and neither are my children. I think it will be an important learning experience when it happens but it won’t make it any easier–losing a member of your family.
Here, Hachi didn’t know he had lost his family. This is the ultimate tragedy I think. We humans can move on because we understand. Dogs don’t.
I often wonder if Hachi would have been okay if the professor had died at home or if he could have seen the professor’s body. If Hachi would have understood and been able to move on and somehow intuit the meaning of death.
Death happens all the time in Nature and animals do go on. I wonder how animals process death. You see mother elephants who refuse to leave their dead baby’s body. You see monkeys who carry their dead babies around in denial of the truth.
When my husband shot a buffalo (this was a paid hunt on a private ranch where the buffalo were going to either be sold to hunters or sold to the slaughter-houses because the ranch owner had lost his lease), he described how all the other buffalos tried to nudge him to get up.
It seems animals mourn like we do. But Hachi could not mourn. He didn’t know. He sat faithfully every day expecting his master to step off the train like he had done countless times in the past.
Hachi is revered by the people of Japan for his loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness. All the school children are taught his story and there is a statue that stands in the spot Hachi waited in the Shibuya Station. It has become a popular spot for marriage proposals as couples confess their undying devotion to one another–just like Hachi’s.
Every year a memorial service is held to honor this special dog.
I think this paragraph from the book says it all:
“I have come to believe there is a special train to bring those who have obtained Enlightenment up to Heaven. Every day for the past ten years, Professor Ueno has met this special train to see if his beloved Akita-ken is on it. Day after day after day he has waited up in Heaven, just as Hachiko has waited here on earth. And today, when the special train reaches Heaven and opens its doors, Hachiko will be the first one to step out. Just think how happy he will be to see his master again.” P.73
I believe with all my heart dogs do go to Heaven. I believe I will be with my dogs again when they pass and they will be with me. I believe they will be waiting for me and will greet me just as vigorously as they do here on earth.
Dogs are the epitome of unconditional love. No matter what happens they will love you because you are theirs and they are yours. Dogs and other pets are a gift from God because He knows they can give us things we cannot get elsewhere. Dogs give humans so many things and ask for so little in return.
Dogs, especially Hachi, are special indeed.
Below is a picture of Hachi as I envision him waiting: